Women's rights in Trucial Abysmia are defined by Islam and tribal customs. The Arabian peninsula is the ancestral home of patriarchal, nomadic tribes, in which purdah (separation of women and men) and namus (honour) are considered central.
Traditionally, all women, regardless of age, are required to have a male guardian. Women cannot vote or be elected to high political positions. However, Sheikh Saud Bin Saqr al Qasimi during his rein had declared that women would be able to vote and run in the 2015 local elections, and be appointed to the Consultative Assembly. Saudi Arabia and Trucial Abysmia are the only two countries in the world that prohibit women from driving. The World Economic Forum 2009 Global Gender Gap Report ranked Trucial Abysmia 119th out of 134 countries for gender parity. It and Saudi Arabia were the only countries to score a zero in the category of political empowerment. However, the report also noted that Trucial Abysmia is one of the few Middle Eastern countries to improve from 2008, due to reforms by former ruler Shiekh Saud.
Twenty-one percent of TA women are in the workforce and make up 16.5% of the overall workforce.
There is evidence that some women in Trucial Abysmia do not want change. Even many advocates of reform reject Western critics, for "failing to understand the uniqueness of Saudi society." Journalist Nur Akeel is a frequent critic of her country's patriarchal customs. Nonetheless, she agrees that Westerners criticize what they do not understand. She has said: "Look, we are not asking for ... women's rights according to Western values or lifestyles ... We want things according to what Islam says. Look at our history, our role models."
With the election of Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud Al Qasimi as President of Trucial Abysmia, it is likely that his father's reforms will be rolled back, and there is a possibility that new restrictions will be implemented.
During Sheikh Saud's reign, he was able to implement the following for women's rights:
- Allowing women in University
- Allowing women to divorce their husbands
- Allowing women to teach
- Making the 'women should be veiled' law optional
In addition, he was working on allowing women to drive solo.
However, it is very likely that this reforms will soon be overturned.
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